China plans to replace Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam with an “interim” chief executive, citing people briefed on the deliberations, which would bring to a close Lam’s rule after months of pro-democracy protests.
Beijing would reportedly appoint an interim chief executive but only once protests die down, the Financial Times reported.
Lam’s successor would be appointed by March and cover the remainder of her term, which ends in 2022, If Chinese president Xi Jinping decides to go ahead as planned.
Sources told FT that officials in China wanted a stabilised situation before a final decision can be made on any leadership changes, because they do not want to be seen to be giving in to violence.
Lam has attracted sweeping protests over fears that Beijing is tightening its grip and limiting the freedoms enjoyed under the “one country, two systems” principle enshrined when Britain handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997.
Millions of people have taken to the streets in Hong Kong since mid-June in protest at now-suspended draft legislation that could have seen people sent to mainland China for trial in Communist party-controlled courts.
Lam’s top successors include a former head of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, Norman Chan, and Henry Tang, who has also served as the territory’s financial secretary and chief secretary for administration, the report said.
In September, in response to a Reuters report about a recording of Lam saying she would step down if she could, Lam said she had never asked the Chinese government to let her resign to end the Chinese-ruled city’s political crisis.
Although the extradition bill was finally withdrawn, the protests have continued, defying police rulings banning them.
China has denied accusation it is eroding the freedoms granted in 1997, and has blamed foreign nations such as the United States and Britain for inciting unrest. (Source: Reuters)